Ever since Ned Ludd took it upon himself to smash a couple of stocking frames, people have been fearful of technological contraptions which threaten to take away their jobs. In fact, the Luddites were right in this belief – ever since the dawn of the industrial revolution, humans have gradually lost ground in the job market against robots. Factories which were once crammed with people working day and night for the big industrialists, are now lightly staffed with humans – the majority of physical work is done by their robots, which are infinitely superior than humans at their particular jobs.
This, of course, is a trend that is not going to disappear. For many people, this is quite a scary idea. Some imagine a life of unemployed misery, as they are slowly replaced by robots – from factory workers to flight attendants. To others, this is a welcome and overdue development.
The idea of people selling their time and labor en masse, in return for wages, was considered degrading and regrettable by the leading lights of early industrial times – Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln. Before the industrial revolution, people were encouraged to learn a skill and master it over the years – that way they could provide a useful service or product for which they could charge a fee. The idea of simply going to work every day, for a set number of hours, and having nothing to show for it (except for the measly wages) was considered by Smith to be degrading for humans. He wrote that such labor means the worker “becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become”.
In recent years, we have seen the accessibility of education reach a huge percentage of the population. These days, anyone who has an internet connection, can learn skills online, such as software development or a foreign language – for free. There are also more and more skill-sharing groups with a more practical focus, for carpenters, mechanics, gardeners and so on. It is in these fields, where humans can still outperform robots, through art, creativity and nuanced knowledge, that we will find the jobs of the future. Even better – once you have a marketable skill, it’s easier than ever to set up in business on your own. You don’t need a boss and you don’t need to be a boss – this eliminates the wasteful management class of people from your life entirely.
As someone whose skills are sought after, you won’t have to sell your labor and time for mere wages. The market and your quality of workmanship will be the main factors which determine how much money you make. The days of working two or three jobs to make ends meet will be long gone.
Just as industry has embraced the use of robots, you too can make the most of robots in your personal life, to free up time from the mundane tasks of everyday life, which keep you from your work, your family and your passions. In fact, the chances are that you already do this to a certain extent – you may use a dishwasher, a washing machine, a kettle, along with other contraptions that you can trust to do simple jobs for you unsupervised.
The future of robots means you can extend the range of jobs they do for you. At Vacuum Fox you can find robots that will vacuum your house for you. There are robots which will mow your lawn for you – once you’ve shown it how to do it right, that’s it – the robot will mow your lawn periodically, choosing times during the day when it knows you’re not around. Once it’s done, it returns to its storage space to recharge. There are few limits to what robots can do for you in this day and age – if you really wanted not to lift a finger for yourself during the whole day, you can find robots to do everything for you. So, rather than be afraid of the rise of the robots, it makes more sense to embrace it. Robots lift the burden off of human shoulders, and free us up to live more fulfilling and free lives.